Recently, a patient in my office named Heather, said: “I wish I had known my migraine headaches were coming from my neck. I would’ve come to you years ago.” Heather had suffered with migraine headaches several times a month for 10 years. Her headaches were quite debilitating. Most the time she was nauseous and had to lie down in a dark room with a cold pack on her forehead. Many times, she had to cancel planned activities with family and friends if a migraine developed.
Fortunately, chiropractic care helped Heather to significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of her headaches. She was able to go months without a headache and if one did develop it was usually mild and she could get relief by putting a cold pack the back of her neck.
This article will discuss migraine headaches and their relationship to the neck area, also called the cervical spine. Chiropractic care as a possible treatment for this condition will be detailed. A recent research study noting an association between neck pain and migraine conditions will be analyzed.
Approximately 12% of the US population, including children, suffers from migraine headaches. Females are three times more likely to experience migraine headaches than males. Migraine headaches are considered to be more debilitating than common stress or tension headaches. Symptoms of migrainous headaches are a severe sharp, throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head. Nausea and vomiting commonly occur. Some people’s migraines develop spontaneously while others are triggered by certain foods, smells, visual and auditory sensations and stimulations.
For many years, chiropractors have noted an association between the bones of the upper neck, also called the upper cervical spine and various types of headaches including migraines. Chiropractors are trained to examine and analyze the alignment and movement of these bones called vertebrae. If the vertebrae of the upper cervical spine are misaligned and moving improperly it can cause irritation of the joints and nerves of the area and this can be a source and cause of a headache.
A recent research study published in Cephalgia, May 2019 noted that among a group of 142 patients with a history of migraines, those with concurrent neck pain reported 80% more migraine related disability than participants without neck pain. The findings add to a growing body of research that suggests the neck plays a role in the migraine headache process, as previous studies have noted an association between cervical dysfunction (improper movement of the upper cervical bones) and migraine intensity and frequency.
Doctors Of Chiropractic have the experience and expertise to evaluate the upper cervical spine to determine if there is a problem with this area that can be helped. If help can be provided a chiropractor will utilize treatment called spinal manipulation (also called a spinal vertebral adjustment) to safely and gently correct the cause of the problem. When this occurs a considerable number of patients who have suffered with migraine headaches have been able to find improvement of their condition.
It would be wise and prudent for anyone suffering from migraine headaches to consult a chiropractor. For over hundred 25 years chiropractic care has been a conservative, safe, gentle drug-free method of giving people freedom from headaches.